You Know Times Are Hard When a Blue Chip Firm Stoops to SEO

Many years ago I worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. After I set up my own consulting firm, I did projects for other outfits which I thought operated in a blue-chip or high-quality mode.

If you read DarkCyber, you may have seen my articles making fun of some consulting firms’ analyses; for example, the outfits producing Gartner-type subjective comparisons enterprise vendors.

I have also been quite clear over the years about search engine optimization. The manipulation of a Web page feeds sales of online advertising and erodes what minimal objective relevance ranking methods remain in use. From my point of view, SEO is a scam. If you want traffic, buy advertising.

Why take time to write again about questionable consulting operations and SEO?

I received this email a day or two ago, and I have informed the sender that I would publish the email, his name, his contact information, and his employer before this item runs in my blog. Now the spam email. Please, note the chatty tone:

Hi Stephen,

We noticed that you featured Boston Consulting Group in four of your articles (Gartner Magic Quadrant in the News: Netscout Matter, Radicati Group: Yet Another Quadrant, Search Engine Optimization: Chasing Semantic Search &  Search Companies: Innovative or Not?) and wanted to say thanks so much for the mentions!

We were hoping you could add a link to our homepage [https://www.bcg.com/] in those articles so your readers can easily find the site. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I should direct this email to someone else. Thanks again for your help in advance.


Connor Hayes

Connor Hayes Hayes.Connor@bcg.com
Global Search Senior Coordinator
T + 1 617 850 3941
Boston, USA

Allow me some observations, and I will offer some comments for Connor Hayes and other SEO “experts”:

1. Connor, and spare me your slathering of Dollar Store taco sauce. I am not into familiarity or hippy dippy “I want a link” pitches.

2. Boston Consulting Group, let’s be classy. SEO spam is something that I associate with outfits less well positioned to sell high-end professional services work.

I asked myself, “Was Connor Hayes influenced by Homer on “The Simpsons”?

I asked myself, “Has BCG lost its sense of professionalism?”

I do recall learning from my father who worked for an entrepreneur R. G. LeTourneau that General Eisenhower and later president of the United States was not impressed that Bruce Henderson, founder of BCG “borrowed” the four square matrix analytic tool. When I heard this anecdote, I suppose the state was set for today’s BCG to embrace search engine optimization. Both the four square star-dog thing and SEO illustrates a similar thought process: Do what needs to be done to become a modern day winner.

I segment the world of professional services consulting into some simple chunks. At the bottom are newly unemployed managers, unemployable college graduates with degrees in home economics, art history, or some similar expertise, and people who just cannot stick with a legitimate company. Many of these individuals become SEO experts.

Then there are mid-tier consulting firms. These firms capture government contracts, find a niche and generate information and knowledge products, and pontificate on LinkedIn about their organizations’ mastery of knowledge-value in today’s world.

The third group is the top of the professional services pyramid. My perception was that the big leagues attracted the best and the brightest. Examples of these top-tier operations included Arthur D. Little, Bain (formed by unhappy professionals at Boston Consulting Group), BCG itself and its four square star dog thing, Booz, Allen & Hamilton, McKinsey & Company, SRI, and a handful of others.

The names I assign each level are:

  • Pigeons, the flocks of consultancies pecking for anything that will sustain them
  • Azure-chip consultants, the myriad of good enough firms that pontificate on everything from Amazon AWS to Zulu refugee buying preferences in South Africa
  • Blue-chip consultants, the Big Leagues of professional consulting and advisory services.

Some observations are warranted, at least to my way of thinking:

  1. Blue-chip consulting firms once marketed via word of mouth, repeat business, and sponsoring awards like the original McKinsey payoff for the “best” Harvard Business Review article. Sorry, BCG, McKinsey aced you out there. SEO is definitely a winner for some like Twitch or YouTube luminaries. (Why not retain Dr. Disrespect to build an audience for BCG’s services? He is available for promotional work at this time I believe?)
  2. The economic downturn appears to require scraping the dregs from the wine barrel for sales leads. Yes, SEO, the better way. Forget the white papers, the speeches, and the thought leadership. It is apparently short cut time.

Net Net: The fact that BCG appears to endorse and desire SEO backlinks is more evidence of a decline within the ranks of top-tier consulting firms’ marketing and PR methods.


Connor Hayes, as you progress in your SEO career, why not get ManyVids or TikTok influencers to promote BCG? Let me know when you become a partner, please.

Stephen E Arnold, July 27, 2020

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